The Hidden Troubles of the F-35 [DefenseNews]

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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spazsinbad

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Unread post26 Apr 2020, 09:16

The Pentagon has cut the number of serious F-35 technical flaws in half
24 Apr 2020 Valerie Insinna

"[repeat of stuff repeated again here as usual] [then]… "Aside from four classified problems, there remain three open category 1 deficiencies in need of a fix. There are myriad reasons for that, the program office stated.

“Reasons for delayed issue closure vary according to the complexity of the solution and the availability of test assets needed to verify the solution,” the JPO said. “The U.S. services fund the F-35 program to address a prioritized set of DRs [deficiency reports], while at the same time, develop new capabilities. It is likely that some low-priority DRs will never be resolved because of their minor impact on F-35 fleet operations does not justify the cost of resolution."

The F-35 program office provided some details on the path forward for resolving these technical flaws, but noted that many details regarding those plans remain classified:

Spikes in the F-35 cockpit’s cabin pressure have been known to cause barotrauma, or extreme ear and sinus pain.
This problem was documented when two Air Force pilots, flying older versions of the F-35A conventional-takeoff-and-landing model, experienced ear and sinus pain that they described as “excruciating, causing loss of in-flight situational awareness, with effects lasting for months,” according to documents obtained by Defense News. The physiological event is known by the medical term barotrauma.

The F-35 Joint Program Office believes barotrauma in the jet is caused when sensors on the outer mold line of the aircraft detect “rapidly changing static pressures” that, in turn, drive very quick changes of the cockpit pressure regulator valve.

Lockheed Martin has tested a fix that proved to be successful in a laboratory setting, Lockheed program head Greg Ulmer said last year. But flight testing of that improvement has not occurred, slowing the pace of a solution. The F-35 program office now says flight testing of a new cockpit pressure regulation system is planned for mid-2020. If all goes well, the deficiency should be completely eliminated in 2021.

On nights with little starlight, the night vision camera sometimes displays green striations that make it difficult for all F-35 variants to see the horizon or to land on ships.
On nights where there is little ambient light, horizontal green lines sometimes appear on the night vision camera feed, obscuring the horizon and making landing on a ship more dangerous. The problem is different than the notorious “green glow” issue, [NO MENTION THAT IS HAS BEEN FIXED] caused when the F-35 helmet-mounted display’s LED lights produce a greenish luminescence that inhibits a pilot’s ability to land on an aircraft carrier on nights with very little light.

At one point, both Lockheed and the government’s program office believed both problems could be solved by the F-35 Generation III helmet that the U.S. military began fielding last year. Although the program office no longer considers the “green glow” problem a deficiency, [that it has been FIXED] it appears that the new helmet did not completely solve the night vision camera issue. The program office told Defense News that it intends to develop software improvements and test them in flight later this year, but the deficiency will not be considered “closed” until at least 2021. [then more about 'sea search radar']…

‘A line in the sand’
Although Defense Department and military leaders have criticized the F-35 program for high operations and sustainment costs, the operational community has rallied around the performance of the jet, praising its advanced computing capability that allows the aircraft to mesh together data from different sensors and provide a more complete picture of enemy threats.

Brig. Gen. David Abba, who leads the Air Force’s F-35 integration office, said in March that he was comfortable with the path forward to correct open deficiencies, downplaying the impact of those issues on daily operations. “Is it important to hold folks’ feet to the fire and make sure that we’re delivering on the capabilities that we need? Yes,” he said. But, he added, it’s also difficult to balance the need to meet a stated technical requirement against the reality of a fielded technology that may already be performing well in daily operations.

“That’s the crux of the acquisition and the delivery problem that we have,” Abba said. “When we say ‘I need this to work exactly like this,’ I’m drawing a line in the sand. If I’m a half degree on one side of that line versus the other, is it really that different? That’s where the art comes in.”

“We’ve got to kind of get over ourselves a little bit and acknowledge that we never field perfect weapon systems,” he continued. “I don’t want to diminish the fact that it’s critical that we get after open DRs, but every weapon system in the United States Air Force — and frankly around the planet — has open deficiencies. What matters is the severity of those deficiencies and ensuring that we have a robust process between government and industry to triage those and deal with them appropriately.”"

Source: https://www.defensenews.com/smr/hidden- ... s-in-half/
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Unread post26 Apr 2020, 15:22

aah...wisdom from the one-star —

“That’s the crux of the acquisition and the delivery problem that we have,” Abba said. “When we say ‘I need this to work exactly like this,’ I’m drawing a line in the sand. If I’m a half degree on one side of that line versus the other, is it really that different? That’s where the art comes in.”

“We’ve got to kind of get over ourselves a little bit and acknowledge that we never field perfect weapon systems,” he continued. “I don’t want to diminish the fact that it’s critical that we get after open DRs, but every weapon system in the United States Air Force — and frankly around the planet — has open deficiencies. What matters is the severity of those deficiencies and ensuring that we have a robust process between government and industry to triage those and deal with them appropriately.”"
(My emphasis added)
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Unread post26 Apr 2020, 15:38

“On nights with little starlight, the night vision camera sometimes displays green striations that make it difficult for all F-35 variants to see the horizon or to land on ships. On nights where there is little ambient light, horizontal green lines sometimes appear on the night vision camera feed, obscuring the horizon and making landing on a ship more dangerous.”

News flash: approach and landing a STOVL jet in starlight (or starlight overcast :shock: ) using any kind of nvd is seriously difficult. Tends to generate lotsa ‘noise’ in the image, thereby adding to the already considerable challenge of the endeavor. Welcome aboard guys.
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Unread post12 May 2020, 05:16

F-35’s Image as $428 Billion Bundle of Flaws Improved by Fixes [BEST READ AT SOURCE becuz lots of details missing]
11 May 2020 Anthony Capaccio

- "Top dangers to pilots resolved as are 90% of top mission risks

--GAO analyst says Pentagon focused on what most needed fixing


The F-35 fighter jet is starting to outlive its reputation as a $428 billion bundle of flawed hardware and buggy software: Lockheed Martin Corp. and the military have eliminated all of the deficiencies believed to endanger pilots and about 90% of other serious flaws that could hamper missions. That’s down from 111 “Category 1” safety-of-flight and mission-impeding deficiencies in January 2018, according to Defense Department data compiled by the Government Accountability Office.

The improvements may be critical to reassuring lawmakers and U.S. allies buying the F-35 that the costliest U.S. weapons system is worth its price tag, especially as pressure builds to reduce government spending after the response to the Covid-19 pandemic escalates budget deficits. The aircraft is already being operated by forces in the U.S., U.K., Israel, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The Defense Department’s F-35 program office has “done a good job at working” with the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps “to really prioritize what needs to get fixed versus what would be just a helpful thing to the pilot -- getting to the actual things they need to get at,” Jon Ludwigson, the GAO’s top F-35 analyst, said in an interview. He said “they have procedures in place to work around” the remaining flaws.

The last “Category 1A” deficiency that could endanger pilots was deemed corrected in mid-November. Now, Lockheed and the Pentagon are resolving eight remaining “Category 1B” deficiencies that pose a “critical impact on mission readiness.” Five of those are expected to be completed and verified by December, the program office said....[then hoohaa about 'deficiencies - not flaws or whatever]

...Remaining Flaws
The remaining serious deficiencies include excessive pressure in the cabin that could injure pilots’ ears, obscured night-vision camera images under some conditions and limited radar sea-searching capability. The program office anticipates resolving the first two matters next year and the radar issue in 2024....

...Beyond the eight most serious outstanding flaws, the F-35 program still faces 860 lesser software and hardware deficiencies, of which 104 are considered fixed but with verification pending. The remainder have a fix under investigation, in the works or are deemed less critical “mission enhancements” that don’t need immediate attention, according to the program office. That’s up from 855 in January 2018. About 85% are software-related...."

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... d-by-fixes
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Unread post12 May 2020, 13:43

I guess they don't get paid if they just call them software bugs.
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Unread post13 May 2020, 17:26

spazsinbad wrote:
F-35’s Image as $428 Billion Bundle of Flaws Improved by Fixes [BEST READ AT SOURCE becuz lots of details missing]
11 May 2020 Anthony Capaccio
- "Top dangers to pilots resolved as are 90% of top mission risks
--GAO analyst says Pentagon focused on what most needed fixing


Many improvements! :applause:

Given that Bloomberg has written many articles criticizing the F-35 over the years, to Me this looks like the pretty F-35 favorable article. (In relative terms.) 8)
Bloomberg, What’s going on !? :doh:
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Unread post13 May 2020, 20:44

The F-35 is poised and ready for any environment, including sustained supersonic flight.
https://twitter.com/lmnews/status/12562 ... 01543?s=20
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Unread post14 May 2020, 15:23

https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing ... 45.article

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II’s modernisation is two years behind schedule and its cost has risen by $1.5 billion.

The Block 4 upgrade - a modernisation of the relatively new stealth fighter’s software and hardware - was initially to be delivered by 2024, but now will not be handed over until 2026, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on 12 May.

USAF Lockheed Martin F-35A taking off from an air base in Spain c USAF

Source: US Air Force

USAF Lockheed Martin F-35A taking off from an air base in Spain

Problems with the programme also pushed up the cost on the modernisation effort to an estimated $12.1 billion, says GAO. What’s more, the government agency says that estimate doesn’t fully account for the total cost of the initiative as the Department of Defense (DoD) has excluded spending prior to 2018 and projected spending after 2024 in its count.

“Ultimately, without a complete understanding of Block 4 costs, the programme could face additional cost growth, which will be hard to track without a complete cost baseline,” says the agency. “The lack of a complete cost baseline hinders insight and oversight into the programme’s costs, plans, and progress to date and going forward.”

In response, the F-35 Joint Program Office says it plans to start including Block 4’s total costs in future accounting.

In January 2018, Joint Program Office rolled out a new strategy for handling software and hardware changes to the F-35, including Block 4 upgrades, such as avionics changes, electronic warfare updates, radar enhancements and integration of new weapons. The incremental strategy is called Continuous Capability Development and Delivery and is based on agile software development methods which are prominent among Silicon Valley technology companies. Lockheed Martin touted the method and claimed it would reduce software development problems.

“With this approach, the programme plans to deliver capabilities to the warfighter faster than it did during the baseline development program,” explains GAO. “For example, rather than take years to develop and deliver all the required capabilities to the warfighter, the program intends to incrementally develop, test, and deliver small groups of capabilities every six months.”

However, even with bite-sized tasks on its plate Lockheed Martin was unable to deliver over the past two years.

“According to the plan outlined in its May 2019 report to Congress, the F-35 programme was going to deliver eight Block 4 capabilities in 2019. However, the programme delivered only one—a software capability called the Auto Ground-Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS),” says GAO. “This capability enables the aircraft to perform an automatic recovery when it predicts that the aircraft will strike the ground. This was ahead of schedule as the programme had originally planned to deliver this capability after 2019.”

Development of the other seven capabilities is taking longer than planned and now the programme anticipates their delivery in 2020. Auto GCAS is not unique to the F-35 and was first fielded in the Lockheed Martin F-16.

Despite issues with Block 4, the Joint Program Office claims the software has “demonstrated the capability and stability to execute all required missions”.

For its part, Lockheed Martin claims it is seeing progress. “Lockheed Martin is working closely with the F-35 Joint Program Office to ensure the F-35 programme continues to mature and provide the warfighter the game changing capability they have already effectively employed in combat,” says the company.

Update: The article was changed on 13 May to clarify that the Joint Program Office formally led the rollout of Continuous Capability Development and Delivery in coordination with Lockheed Martin, which has adopted and endorsed the process.
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Unread post16 May 2020, 10:04

I don't think many people have registered just how bad this is....Block IV won't be ready until 2026...and if anyone thinks that date won't slip further to the right over the next 6 years is deluding themselves. It's a disaster. And you have to genuinely wonder if LM and the JPO have the competence and capability to attempt to reverse the slide, or even stop it, given the failure of their attempt to go 'agile' over the last 2 years.

In practice for most F-35 users this means their new, very expensive fighter aircraft will not be fully operational with their choice of weapons until 2028 at the earliest. Or the capabilities that they were banking on. For example the UK will find itself restricted to legacy Asraam, Amraam C-5/D and Paveway IV 500lber's for the next 8 years. Thats not a full combat capability. 2024 was bad enough, particularly given the number of munitions that have already been dropped from the original intent.

It also means that export sales of weapons developed for Block IV integration will be restricted to a limited number of US weapons. So that's Norway pissed off due to lack of JSM integration and the UK pissed off as they can't integrate Asraam CSP, Meteor, Spear, Spear EW, SpearGlide and Paveway Penetrator.

It's been on the cards for a while but I think this finally puts the nail in the coffin of any UK orders beyond 70ish at most. The dates now overlap too heavily with the Tempest programme. I suspect that other nations will also begin to re-examine their long term orders where they have potential alternatives. Many are already in the position of waiting for FRP to be agreed, which seems to drag on and on. Japan, Italy and South Korea being the most obvious. COVID-19 effects won't help along with a general desire across the western aligned world to have more sovereign capability/capacity.

I've always been a supporter of the F-35 programme...although truth be told I always preferred the MDD/Northrop/BAE proposal, but I'm beginning to be a little doubtful and no amount of spin from the JPO or LM will change that, things need to be accelerated and delivered earlier. Results matter not words. And it needs to happen without massive cost increases...I'm afraid the current President's words aren't helping either...
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Unread post17 May 2020, 00:48

timmymagic wrote:I don't think many people have registered just how bad this is....

...In practice for most F-35 users this means their new, very expensive fighter aircraft will not be fully operational with their choice of weapons until 2028 at the earliest. Or the capabilities that they were banking on. For example the UK will find itself restricted to legacy Asraam, Amraam C-5/D and Paveway IV 500lber's for the next 8 years. Thats not a full combat capability. 2024 was bad enough, particularly given the number of munitions that have already been dropped from the original intent.


Oh FFS. All airplanes reach "full" capability the day after they stop being upgraded at the end of their operational life. FOC capability IS Block 3. Block 4 and subsequent blocks are NEW capabilities. With Blk 3 having more advanced weapon capability than any other baseline fighter design in history, it is hardly parity-challenged by any other design for the foreseeable future.

I can hardly wait for when Block 4/5/6 are fielded to hear the laments over not being 'FOC' until Block 5/6/7 because some enhancement or another was pushed back or cancelled.
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Unread post17 May 2020, 01:31

timmymagic wrote:I don't think many people have registered just how bad this is....Block IV won't be ready until 2026...and if anyone thinks that date won't slip further to the right over the next 6 years is deluding themselves. It's a disaster. And you have to genuinely wonder if LM and the JPO have the competence and capability to attempt to reverse the slide, or even stop it, given the failure of their attempt to go 'agile' over the last 2 years.

In practice for most F-35 users this means their new, very expensive fighter aircraft will not be fully operational with their choice of weapons until 2028 at the earliest. Or the capabilities that they were banking on. For example the UK will find itself restricted to legacy Asraam, Amraam C-5/D and Paveway IV 500lber's for the next 8 years. Thats not a full combat capability. 2024 was bad enough, particularly given the number of munitions that have already been dropped from the original intent.

It also means that export sales of weapons developed for Block IV integration will be restricted to a limited number of US weapons. So that's Norway pissed off due to lack of JSM integration and the UK pissed off as they can't integrate Asraam CSP, Meteor, Spear, Spear EW, SpearGlide and Paveway Penetrator.

It's been on the cards for a while but I think this finally puts the nail in the coffin of any UK orders beyond 70ish at most. The dates now overlap too heavily with the Tempest programme. I suspect that other nations will also begin to re-examine their long term orders where they have potential alternatives. Many are already in the position of waiting for FRP to be agreed, which seems to drag on and on. Japan, Italy and South Korea being the most obvious. COVID-19 effects won't help along with a general desire across the western aligned world to have more sovereign capability/capacity.

I've always been a supporter of the F-35 programme...although truth be told I always preferred the MDD/Northrop/BAE proposal, but I'm beginning to be a little doubtful and no amount of spin from the JPO or LM will change that, things need to be accelerated and delivered earlier. Results matter not words. And it needs to happen without massive cost increases...I'm afraid the current President's words aren't helping either...


How long before Tempest is set on all the weapons you mention?? Or fully operational?

This is some top notch faux concern I will admit. If it's any consolation JPO and LM don''t care about your feelings.
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Unread post17 May 2020, 14:24

smsgtmac wrote:Oh FFS. All airplanes reach "full" capability the day after they stop being upgraded at the end of their operational life. FOC capability IS Block 3. Block 4 and subsequent blocks are NEW capabilities. With Blk 3 having more advanced weapon capability than any other baseline fighter design in history, it is hardly parity-challenged by any other design for the foreseeable future.

Yeah, it's almost unbelievable how light in terms of weapons integrated some of the previous fighters have arrived.
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Unread post17 May 2020, 16:38

smsgtmac wrote:Oh FFS. All airplanes reach "full" capability the day after they stop being upgraded at the end of their operational life. FOC capability IS Block 3. Block 4 and subsequent blocks are NEW capabilities. With Blk 3 having more advanced weapon capability than any other baseline fighter design in history, it is hardly parity-challenged by any other design for the foreseeable future.

I can hardly wait for when Block 4/5/6 are fielded to hear the laments over not being 'FOC' until Block 5/6/7 because some enhancement or another was pushed back or cancelled.


Thank you.
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Unread post17 May 2020, 19:27

timmymagic wrote:I don't think many people have registered just how bad this is....Block IV won't be ready until 2026...and if anyone thinks that date won't slip further to the right over the next 6 years is deluding themselves. It's a disaster. And you have to genuinely wonder if LM and the JPO have the competence and capability to attempt to reverse the slide, or even stop it, given the failure of their attempt to go 'agile' over the last 2 years.

In practice for most F-35 users this means their new, very expensive fighter aircraft will not be fully operational with their choice of weapons until 2028 at the earliest. Or the capabilities that they were banking on. For example the UK will find itself restricted to legacy Asraam, Amraam C-5/D and Paveway IV 500lber's for the next 8 years. Thats not a full combat capability. 2024 was bad enough, particularly given the number of munitions that have already been dropped from the original intent.

It also means that export sales of weapons developed for Block IV integration will be restricted to a limited number of US weapons. So that's Norway pissed off due to lack of JSM integration and the UK pissed off as they can't integrate Asraam CSP, Meteor, Spear, Spear EW, SpearGlide and Paveway Penetrator.

It's been on the cards for a while but I think this finally puts the nail in the coffin of any UK orders beyond 70ish at most. The dates now overlap too heavily with the Tempest programme. I suspect that other nations will also begin to re-examine their long term orders where they have potential alternatives. Many are already in the position of waiting for FRP to be agreed, which seems to drag on and on. Japan, Italy and South Korea being the most obvious. COVID-19 effects won't help along with a general desire across the western aligned world to have more sovereign capability/capacity.

I've always been a supporter of the F-35 programme...although truth be told I always preferred the MDD/Northrop/BAE proposal, but I'm beginning to be a little doubtful and no amount of spin from the JPO or LM will change that, things need to be accelerated and delivered earlier. Results matter not words. And it needs to happen without massive cost increases...I'm afraid the current President's words aren't helping either...


That's not what was said at all. 2024 wasn't the introduction date of Block 4. Reading is fundamental.
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Unread post17 May 2020, 20:59

FFS, have some perspective. The globe literally ground to a halt for 60+ days and we are worried about slipping any schedules at all? Quite frankly they might slip and that is okay due to the scope of the program. The typical fighter at this early stage is a one-trick pony and we're crying that 2024 might slip to 2026 in your opinion? They have a sense or priorities right now and we don't need to delude ourselves into thinking Block IV has to be equivalent to an F-18E that has been around for decades at this point.
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